Called Out of Darkness (1 Peter 2:9-10)
As I’ve shared with you, I had horrible nightmares about tornadoes as a kid. Because of those nightmares, I was often afraid to go to sleep, and I was terrified of the dark. My bedroom was across the hallway from the bathroom, and, when I went to bed, I made certain my bedroom door was open, the bathroom door was open, and the bathroom light was on. I couldn’t stand to sleep in a dark room.
Am I the only one who was afraid of the dark as a kid? Did any of you have kids who were afraid of the dark? Maybe you’re no longer afraid of the dark, but you might keep a lamp beside your bed if you need to get up in the middle of the night. Might you use your phone’s flashlight if your drop your keys outside after dark? Do any of you make sure to turn on your porch light if you’re going to be coming home after dark?
Honestly, the world is full of darkness. We turn on the TV and hear about a family of five being murdered or about a child’s abuse and neglect or we sit down to be entertained and the program is full of adultery and greed and selfishness.
God called us out of that darkness into light. Jesus said, “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness” (Jn 12:46). “At one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord” (Eph 5:8).
Peter reminded his readers that God had called them from darkness into light. But being called from darkness into light is as much a responsibility as it is a blessing. Because God has called the Christian from darkness into light, “God has a job for his church.”
Scripture (1 Peter 2:9-10)
This verse harkens back to Exodus 19:6 where YHWH said that Israel was to be to him “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” However, Israel never lived up to that expectation, and God has replaced the Israelites as his special people with the church.
The church is “a chosen race.” Membership in God’s people is a matter of spiritual, rather than physical, birth.
The church is “a royal priesthood.” A priest offers sacrifices, and the Christian offers sacrifices of prayer and praise.
The church is “a holy nation.” The Christian strives to life righteously before God.
The church is “a people for his own possession.” The church belongs to God; Christians are the people of God.
This is all that the church “may proclaim the excellencies of him who called [her] out of darkness into his marvelous light.” The imagery here isn’t that the church is out making disciples but that the church is drawing people to herself. That idea is quite akin to what happened with the Queen of Sheba; when she “heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD,” she came to investigate, and when she had seen everything, “there was no more breath in her” (1 Ki 10:1, 5).
Peter’s readers had not always been a people—they were Gentiles, and it’s very possible that many had been enemies of one another. But in Christ they had been brought into one body.
Peter’s readers had lived without God’s mercy, but, in the body of Christ, the Lord showed them mercy.
“God has a job for his church.” At verse 9, Peter outlined the task God gave the church. What is that task?
One: The Church is a Polite People.
The church is “a chosen race.” Israel was also “a chosen race,” but they were all the same race, having common ancestors in Abraham and Sarah. That’s not the case in the church, but Christians come from every ethnicity.
Yet in that multiplicity of races, God has made the church one race: Ephesians 2:14-16. One’s ethnicity doesn’t matter in the church, for he is a child of God regardless of his ancestry.
Therefore, the Christian must be polite. The Christian welcomes all; he shows no favoritism: “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. . . . If you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (Js 2:1, 9). You cannot show favoritism; you are polite and welcoming to all who come to Jesus.
Two: The Church is a Priestly People.
The church is “a royal priesthood.” God intended for all Israelites to be priests; however, after the Hebrews gave themselves to idolatry and erected the golden calf, God chose the Levitical priesthood. No longer is the priestly role confined to a certain class of people, but all Christians are priests.
The role of a priest is to offer sacrifices, and you, as a priest, offer sacrifices.
- “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Rom 12:1).
- Hebrews 13:15-16.
- “You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 2:5).
As a priest, you offer the sacrifice of praise to God, i.e., you worship God. How is your worship? Are you faithful in your worship attendance? Do you honestly worship in the assembly? Do you simply go through the motions, or are you offering the sacrifice of praise to God?
Three: The Church is a Pious People.
The church is “a holy nation.” All around you people abide in sin; God, however, has called you to a holy life.
- “Beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” (2 Cor 7:1).
- “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14).
- “It is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Pet 1:16).
How holy are you? Would you family say you are holy? Would you coworkers say you are holy? Would your neighbors say you are holy? Would God himself say you are holy? What do you need to change to bring “holiness to completion in the fear of God?”
Four: The church is a Possessed People.
The church is “a people for his own possession.” God owns the church, for he purchased the church; Paul told the Ephesian elders: “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).
Since God gave his Son for the church, the church belongs to him. Therefore, it’s not up to you to determine how the church should operate or what she should believe or how she should worship. It’s his church, not your church! You have absolutely no right to determine anything for the church because it is not yours.
Because it is the church of God, the church submits to him. You follow God, for he possesses the church.
“God has a job for his church.” If we truly lived that truth, where would this congregation be? We would be a bright shining light in this community; people would be beating down the doors to know the truth. We would be worshiping God faithfully and honestly. We would welcome everyone who wanted to know the gospel of Jesus. We would be known by our holiness. We would follow God wherever he leads.
Are you following the Lord God this morning?
This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at Church of Christ Deer Park in Deer Park, Texas.